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BACKGROUND: Human metapneumovirus (HMPV) infection causes a spectrum of respiratory tract disease, and may be a significant pathogen in the context of immunocompromise. Here, we report direct-from-sample metagenomic sequencing of HMPV using Oxford Nanopore Technology. METHODS: We applied this sequencing approach to 25 respiratory samples that had been submitted to a clinical diagnostic laboratory in a UK teaching hospital. These samples represented 13 patients under the care of a haematology unit over a 20-day period in Spring 2019 (two sampled twice), and ten other patients elsewhere in the hospital between 2017-2019. RESULTS: We generated HMPV reads from 20/25 samples (sensitivity 80% compared to routine diagnostic testing) and retrieved complete HMPV genomes from 15/20 of these. Consensus sequences from Nanopore data were identical to those generated by Illumina, and represented HMPV genomes from two distinct sublineages, A2b and B2. Sequences from ten haematology patients formed a unique genetic group in the A2b sublineage, not previously reported in the UK. Among these, eight HMPV genomes formed a cluster (differing by ≤3 SNPs), likely to reflect nosocomial transmission, while two others were more distantly related and may represent independent introductions to the haematology unit. CONCLUSION: Nanopore metagenomic sequencing can be used to diagnose HMPV infection, although more work is required to optimise sensitivity. Improvements in the use of metagenomic sequencing, particularly for respiratory viruses, could contribute to antimicrobial stewardship. Generation of full genome sequences can be used to support or rule out nosocomial transmission, and contribute to improving infection prevention and control practices.

Original publication




Journal article


J Infect

Publication Date





571 - 577


Epidemiology, HMPV, Haematology, Human metapneumovirus, Infection control, Metagenomics, Nanopore sequencing, Nosocomial transmission, Outbreak, Cross Infection, Hematology, Humans, Infant, Metapneumovirus, Nanopores, Paramyxoviridae Infections, Phylogeny, Respiratory Tract Infections, United Kingdom